New research presented at the 28th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies indicates that those who share a bed with their furry companions for more than four nights a week have poor sleep quality (1). Specifically, 63 percent of people aren't sleeping well when their pets sleep where they do, based on a series of questions asked of pet owners to determine sleeping habits.
Why it's not advised to have pets share same bed as owners
While many feel that having their pet share the same bed with them is cute and comforting, and therefore more likely to induce a restful state, Dr. Sowjanya Duthuluru, M.D, explains that that's not necessarily the case (1). Dr. Duthuluru says that everything from pet allergens and animals that twitch while dreaming to more obvious disturbances such as barking and meowing can disrupt sleep.
Poor sleep quality is indeed a serious heath issue; researchers have shown there to be a link between inadequate sleep and deteriorating health conditions that affect longevity and even create anxiety (2).
On the positive side, the health benefits of pet ownership
However, pets, while they may not be suited next to people in bed, do extend many health benefits to their human counterparts.
For example, there are many instances in which pet owners have observed unusual behavior in how their pet is interacting with them, only to later be diagnosed with an ailment specifically involving the part of the body that the animal was, for example, excessively head-butting or jumping on (3). There have even been studies done to prove the ability that a pet has to help human health, including a 2011 study from Japan in which a Labrador retriever was 98 percent correct in identifying colorectal cancer by sniffing stool samples and at least 95 percent as accurate as a colonoscopy when smelling someone's breath (3).
In addition to research showing that pets can identify cancers in humans, they have also been shown to help fight high blood pressure and improve heart health. Glenn N. Levine, M.D., who chairs an American Heart Association (AHA) committee, said that "there are plausible psychological, sociological and physiological reasons to believe that pet ownership might actually have a causal role in decreasing cardiovascular risk." (4)
The AHA has said there is likely a correlation between having a pet and a reduction in obesity, blood pressure and cholesterol in people.
About the author: A science enthusiast with a keen interest in health nutrition, Antonia has been intensely researching various dieting routines for several years now, weighing their highs and their lows, to bring readers the most interesting info and news in the field. While she is very excited about a high raw diet, she likes to keep a fair and balanced approach towards non-raw methods of food preparation as well.